If you know me, you know I adore my sisters. They are one of my greatest gifts.
But just because we were born in the same family didn't make us automatic friends. To make these relationships lifelong friends it takes work and commitment.
We get asked a lot "How do we keep our relationships close?" We are 9 women who are opinionated and stubborn (just ask our husbands) who each have our own set of "all the busy" that comes with life.
But we all agree - we are each other's best friends.
These friendships just didn't happen because we were related by blood. It started with our parents teaching us that these relationships would be one of lifes greatest blessings. They taught us to show our gratitude for this blessing by how we treated each other. In fact, when we were growing up, there was nothing that we got more punished for than if we had been disloyal to each other.
As the years went by, we continued to honor this gift by putting in the effort to be part of each other's lives, and that meant not just the good times but also the bad times. Investment in relationships takes sacrifice. Sacrifice in relationships includes emotional, physical and sometimes financial investment. As adulthood got more complicated, the sacrifices sometimes seemed harder or more needed.
I promise you that it is worth the investment. My sisters (and my sister-in-laws) contribute greatly to my mental health and happiness. They are relationships that make me a better person and enhance not just my life but my husband's and children's lives.
Creating a strong bond with your siblings is work, but it will be some of the most important work you will do on this earth. It is never too late to start cultivating stronger bonds with your siblings. If you are a parent, teach your children to prioritize these relationships. If you are an adult, put the past behind you and start anew. Investing in any relationship, no matter your age will always give you a more abundant life and it is one of the few things you will take with you in the next life.
1. Appreciate Your Differences: One of the greatest lessons I learned growing up with so many sisters is that I don't have to be good at everything. I learned early on that we all have unique gifts. This awareness gave me space to appreciate my own gifts and to love that they were different and unique from my sisters.
Unfortunately, I don't live locally by any of my sisters, so I had to create my village of sisters, who I call framily. These women have talents that are totally different from mine. My village is filled with amazing women. One can throw a party that would put Martha Stewart to shame, one is so thoughtful that she fulfills someone's needs before I am even aware of the need, one can walk in a room and tell you exactly what you need to make that room perfectly decorated, one has such spiritual insight and wisdom that I am going to start calling her Deborah (Judges 4:4), another constantly teaches me that my effort is enough and to love myself. This just scratches the surface of their talents. I could go on and on about the women that the Lord has blessed me and my family's life with.
These women don't make me feel less because of their gifts, they make my life feel abundant. They make me feel grateful. Grateful that Heavenly Father gave his daughters different gifts for different purposes.
None of us need to have all the gifts, we just need each other and the willingness to share our gifts. I first learned this lesson from my biological sisters. I understood early on that the collective of our sisterhood is one of the greatest gifts that our Heavenly Father gave His daughters.
When we learn to focus on each other's gifts instead of each other's faults is when we see the true magic of sisterhood, a much more abundant life by being associated.
2. Investment of Time - Everybody gets the same amount of time. The difference is how we spend that time. Saying you are too busy is a choice. As my sisters and I were entering marriages and adulthood we realized that if we wanted to maintain our relationships we needed to invest in each other our time. We all have super busy lives, but we have made an annual long weekend a priority for the last 29 years.
It doesn't take a lot of money (some years we went camping-although not our favorite 😅) it just took a commitment that this was a priority in our lives.
We have discovered that the location or activities don't even matter. Time is the most important element. Time to be in each other's presence. Time to laugh. Time to talk. Time to cry. We have found time with each other to be one of the best things we could do for our mental health. It makes us better wives, mothers, and women and disciples of Christ.
3.Grace - Learning to forgive and give grace is essential to creating a strong sisterhood. We are humans, and being human we can say and do a lot of stupid things.
I remember having a conversation with one of my sisters and telling her how guilty I felt about a period of her life. I didn't like how I showed up. I wish I had been more aware and helpful. She showed me grace in her response. She said, "I just always believed that you gave me your best." This thought gave her a feeling of gratitude for me.
I try to think that thought whenever I am disappointed with one of my sisters, I choose to think "she is giving me her best". We all go through ups and downs. Sometimes we need to be given grace and sometimes we need to give grace.
I have also found if you live by my husband's favorite quote, "Err on the side of being generous", it will always give you the best result in any of your relationships. I promise you that you will never regret being generous in your words, praise, and most importantly your thoughts about others.
I promise you that if you just focus on these three things: appreciation for who they are, invest time with each other, and give each other grace in your words and thoughts your relationships will become blessings in your life.
One of the many tender mercies that God has given me in this life is the fact that He blessed me with five daughters. I can't tell you how much joy it brings me to see them continue the legacy of a strong sisterhood - they are already planning their future sister trips. I am so thankful that they will have each other for the ups and downs of life -their life will be better because of their sisterhood.